[REVIEW] ZEN IN THE ART OF WRITING BY RAY BRADBURY

Dear Reader,

Remember when I watched that video by Ariel Bissett and was convinced that I, too, needed to buy a typewriter? Well, in that same video, she recommended the book “Zen in the Art of Writing” by Ray Bradbury. She said she loved to read this book whenever she needed motivation to write. So I requested it from the library because, just like how I’m a sucker for books about books/reading, I’m also a sucker for books about writing.

“Zen in the Art of Writing” is actually a collection of essays written by Ray Bradbury that were published in his lifetime. He talks about his processes and inspirations. He has essays about Fahrenheit 451 and The Martian Chronicles–about how they came to be as well as what they have continued to be and mean to him. He also just has a lot of anecdotes from his childhood and even adult life that really prove just how weird of a character he was.

And I mean that as a sincere compliment. After all, everybody knows that the weird ones are always the ones to change the world.

Before picking this up, I had never read anything by Ray Bradbury. We didn’t have to read Fahrenheit 451 in any of my high school English classes and I had never even heard of his other stuff–though I understand now that his other work was extremely successful as well.

But I devoured this. It was a pretty easy read because of how short it is. All of his essays are so compact and he doesn’t really stray from his main point–which is something I tend to worry about when reading something written by “one of the greats.” Bradbury is a bit different, though. His writing isn’t overtly flowery and his vocabulary isn’t super complicated or outdated, even. He wrote about his editing process, so I know he has one, but his writing reads more like a stream of conscious thought. Even so, when he does use larger words or phrases something in a more poetic fashion, it doesn’t seem out of place. In fact, one of my favorite things he does is using multiple beautifully-stated examples or metaphors to explain something. It is how he thinks. It just comes across as authentic.

Like I said, I checked this book out of the library, meaning I had to resist marking the pages. I do plan to buy my own copy, though, so I can highlight, star, and underline to my heart’s content. For the time being, though, I decided to take notes on my typewriter of certain quotes or sentiments I liked. I might even make a post later of my favorite parts. It’d be too much to include here, though, because my notes go on for pages.

At this point, it probably goes without saying that I rated this book 5 stars. It’s one of my new favorites and I’m so excited to not only reread it, but to share it in my future classroom. There were so many passages and lines that I wrote out because I know they can benefit students. There are a few entire essays that I want my future classes to read, but there are also so many quotes and sentiments I want to share with them about writing and editing and reading and living.

In this book, Bradbury talked about why we read–and why we read what we read. About science-fiction, he said “It’s not escapist, it’s essential; it’s problem-solving.” He also talked about why we write. Everyone has a story–and just like how there was only one Shakespeare and one Dickens, there is only one of every single person in the world.

“You, the prism, measure the light of the world; it burns through your mind to throw a different spectroscopic reading onto white paper than anyone else anywhere can throw. Let the world burn through you. Throw the prism light, white hot, on paper. Make your own individual spectroscopic reading.”

Everyone is a poet, he said. This is clear when you get them talking about something they love–when you see their passion burning through them in front of your eyes.

Of course, everyone has their own story and their own things to share, but they might get caught up when they try to communicate. Language trips them up. So it is vital that we learn the tricks of the trade–you must learn technique so you don’t trip when you try to run.

God that man was a genius. Not only was he great, but he had the power to make everyone else feel like they could be great, too.

Sincerely,

Sammy

SHIT I LIKE: THE FIRST INSTALLMENT

Dear Reader,

Every once in awhile, something will catch my attention–a quote, an anecdote, a fact–things that are funny or interesting–I’ll hear something and I’ll think, that’s sick. I want to remember that.

So I’ll write it down. I’ll make a note of it wherever I happen to find it. Most of them end up in one of my journals or as a note in my phone, but some of them are all over the place. If I hear something cool in class, I’ll scribble it in the margins of my notes. If I see something interesting on Twitter or Tumblr, I’ll take a screenshot. Sometimes I’ll come across something in a book, so I’ll leave a sticky note to mark the page.

It’s a fine method that works for the most part, but it doesn’t do a great job of keeping them all in one place. And many of these spots are hardly revisited so they’re often forgotten, which defeats the whole purpose.

So now, whenever I come across a random note, I’ll add it to my growing list entitled “Shit I Like.” And I thought I might as well start sharing some of that list on here, as well. So here are some cool anecdotes and quotes from books and movies that I’ve come across lately and have sparked some thoughts within me.

No. 1: The idea behind Penguin Books.

Allen Lane, the founder of Penguin Books, was traveling and had nothing to read. He dreamt of good literature that was available everywhere and cheap. So in 1935, the first Penguin paperbacks arrived, featuring Ernest Hemingway, Andre Maurois, and Agatha Christie among others. They were color-coded (orange-novels, blue-biographies, green-crime) and cost sixpence–the same price as a packet of cigarettes.

The “Armed Forces Book Club” then began to spread joy & entertainment among the soldiers. The small size of these paperbacks fit perfectly in their uniform pockets. They were also prized in prison camps. (Information from Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend)

No 2: From a sign in the Shakespeare & Company Bookstore in Vienna.

“Penguin Classics opens the door to a treasure house of pure pleasures.”

No. 3: A revelation from the movie Into the Wild. 

HAPPINESS ONLY REAL WHEN SHARED.

No. 4: The importance of a single book.

British writer Henry Green is largely forgotten & never sold more than a few thousand copies of his novels, but he largely inspired Sebastian Faulks, Eudora Welty, and Anthony Burgess. John Updike wrote that Green’s novels made “more of a stylistic impact on me than those of any writer living or dead.” Even a book read by only a dozen people can have a massive effect if one of those readers goes on to write a book read by millions. (Information from Books for Living)

No. 5: A message at the beginning of the movie Baby Driver. 

I went and saw Baby Driver in theaters a little over a week ago. Before it played, a man popped up on the screen and introduced himself as Edgar Wright. He thanked the audience for coming to see the movie that he had written and directed, but also thanked us for coming to see it in the form that it was created for. Watching the movie, it was clear what he meant.

The storyline was great and all the elements of the story were there. It’s possible that it could be adapted into a great book or graphic novel or translated onto some other medium–but it was also clear what medium it was meant for. All of the decisions Wright made were clearly intentional and he wanted us to know. He wanted to thank us for coming to experience his art the way he intended for it to be experienced.

Sincerely,

Sammy

THE BOOKS I READ ABROAD

Dear Reader,

I always try to make reading a priority. This is a lot easier when I have more free time, but even when I have free time, I don’t always devote it to reading. I haven’t read nearly as many books this summer as I would’ve liked–although I will argue that I’ve been productive. I’ve been trying to write and organize some things and I’ve actually left the apartment on occasion to go to the rec and work out. Big things are happening.

It’s funny, though, because I had a lot less free time in Europe, but I spent the majority of it reading. Wifi wasn’t always available (or reliable), but I had three books in my bags that always were. Also, while I enjoyed the people on the trip, it was exhausting having to constantly interact with people. I would often slip to the back of the bus or up to my hotel room when I needed an escape.

God I love books.

I started chipping away at The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern at the beginning of the trip. The storyline is really intricate and seems pretty convoluted at first, so I would just read a few chapters before bed while I stayed in Luxembourg. At the end of the week, though, we took a six-hour bus ride to Switzerland.

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This was heaven. I claimed the last row of seats, sprawled out, and read the last 200-or-so pages.

I really don’t binge books like this that often. The only books I read in one sitting tend to be graphic novels or short books that I need to finish for class. The Night Circus was completely different for me.

The story jumps back and forth between time and tells it from multiple different perspectives, but once you get to the point of the book where you’ve figured it all out–and once you get to the point where all the side stories are reaching their climaxes–it’s hard to put it down.

I was completely captivated–and I’m sure the people around me would’ve noticed my occasional audible reactions if they weren’t asleep or had headphones on. I wouldn’t have cared, though. I was nestled up against the window so the falling rain would be in my peripheral and didn’t take my nose out of the book until it was done.

The writing is so vivid that I saw it all playing out like a movie in my head, but I think that it would work so well as a series because there are so many twists and turns–it wouldn’t be hard to ensure that each episode has a cliffhanger or two. I would love if this turned into a Netflix series or something. In this day, we have so much that could ensure that it would be visually stunning and truly magical.

Of course, that’s a risky thing to wish for because I would hate if they screwed it up–Eragon and Percy Jackson fans were pumped for their movies, and those certainly didn’t live up. That’s the risk when you have a book that good–and The Night Circus is that good.

It’s definitely one of my new favorites and is a story that’s going to stay with me. After I put it down and went back to the real world, I felt like I could see the beautiful things in life so much clearer. It might’ve been because I was in Europe and seeing cool sites anyway, but a week after I finished it, I was walking around Prater in Vienna–not a circus, but an amusement park. It might have reminded me of this book because of how old it is and all the history it has, but I was walking around, thinking, there’s definitely magic in this air.

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While in Luxembourg, my friends and I went to an English bookstore. I picked up a book called Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend and knew I had to buy it after reading the back. Ultimately, it’s a story about a girl who travels from Sweden to the US to visit a friend. She ends up in a town in the middle of nowhere and ends up opening a bookstore.

First of all, I’m a sucker for books about books. I think most booklovers are. When books you already love are mentioned, you gain a connection to the story and the characters that are talking about them, and when books you haven’t yet read are brought up, you get more books to add to your reading list. Plus, the protagonist that loves books more than people is too relatable.

Second, I knew I had to buy it as a memento from the trip. I’m constantly trying to build my library, and when I put this one in my classroom, I can say that it’s a book that I bought while I was studying other school systems and learning how to be a better teacher, which I think is cool as hell. It also at least mentions travelling/Europe, so it’s relevant in that case, and it’s translated from Swedish to English–which I also think is cool.

As for the story, I thoroughly enjoyed it. Again, though, this is in part because I’m a sucker. The story begins by describing the main character as too plain to be a protagonist and too focused on stories to have a life of her own. This immediately sets the book up to be relatable, and then when everything that you would expect to happen happens, you just feel comforted.

There are enough secondary storylines and gems within the novel (book recommendations, fun anecdotes, good quotes) that I don’t feel like I’m spoiling anything by spelling out the pattern.

Young woman moves to small town and falls in love with the life she ends up living there. She opens a bookstore, makes friends, and falls in love. That’s the dream. That’s the cliche, and it’s all set up from the beginning that her life is not like a book–but then, obviously, her life has to end up as a story worth telling.

So I really enjoyed it. I wouldn’t rate it 5 stars or even recommend it to everyone–I told Sarah to read it and she decided she was done with it within 100 pages. It’s pretty lengthy, and while it drags in some places, I would say it even leaves a bit to be desired. Still, I liked it. And I liked that I read it abroad. I’ll look at it on my shelf and think back to buying it in Luxembourg and reading it in the Swiss Alps. I smiled like a goof at some of the pages and decided almost immediately that I would love to own a bookstore one day. It’s not for everyone, but I was entertained and even a bit inspired. That’s a good read by my standards.

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Around Christmastime, I bought Where’d You Go, Bernadette and was really excited about it because I had heard how smart and funny it was. So I started it in January–around the same time that I also started a classical mythology class that turned out to be way more demanding than I had figured. That was the main reason why I put the book back on the shelf after finishing “Part 1,” but the reason why I never went back to it is because I just wasn’t that interested.

I certainly saw merit in the praise it received. I thought the characters were really well developed and the writing was great–everything was smart and funny all around. I guess I just didn’t see the point of the book, I guess. This is kind of funny now that I’ve finished it because I can see it clearly now–and I can see why I was so uninterested. Though there is a driving plot in the story, this novel is so much more about what it has to say, now what it has to tell about what happened.

The story is about Bernadette, a wife and mother, who disappears, and her young teen daughter who is trying to find her. The story is told from letters and emails from multiple characters and direct narration from Bee (the daughter), but because Bernadette’s voice is still present throughout, you’re not worried that she’s really gone or won’t be found–or, at least, I wasn’t.

So even though the plot summary may make it seem like it’s a gripping mystery, that’s probably not the best expectation to have. It’s more a story about family and love. Bernadette is neurotic and has crazy standards for success and it’s interesting to see watch as everything comes together.

It really is an enjoyable read. All of the characters are super intelligent and Bee is so lovable–even when Bernadette isn’t. I’ll definitely be rereading it, though, and I’m excited to see how I see the story with the new perspective I now have because of it.

God, aren’t books great?

Sincerely,

Sammy

WHO EVEN FOLLOWS THIS THING ANYMORE?

Dear Reader,

The only consistent thing about me is my inconsistency, that’s for sure. But it’s final’s week in my life currently (well, the past three weeks have basically been considered “final’s week” for me), and I am a terrible procrastinator. Fortunately for me, I often procrastinate schoolwork by working on passion projects.

I’ll practice guitar or listen to covers I think I might be able to pull off one day. I’ll write handwritten notes or journal entires. Sometimes I’ll work on my teaching portfolio or browse Pinterest to see what I could implement in my own classroom. And just now, even, I finished listening to Logic’s third album, “Everybody,” and then read some articles on what people think about him–side note, LOTS of people hate on Logic. I don’t really care, though. I like his message and I like the way he tells it. Good enough for me.

But this blog is very much a “passion project” for me. I’ve never tried to make money off of it (lol could you imagine) and I haven’t been consistent in my posts for QUITE some time. But I still keep it around because every once in a while I feel like writing a blog post.

That being said, I really feel like I’ll be utilizing this more once the summer hits. So I thought I’d just make this little update post for anyone out there who still checks in on me every once in a while.

MUSIC: Music is one of the things that continues to inspire and motivate me. I’ve gone kind of crazy with making playlists this year (pushing on 90 in total, so says Spotify) and I’ve certainly pulled the occasional accidental all-nighter because I got wrapped up in finding new shit. But I have a lot that I want to share and a lot of half-written blog posts that I want to eventually publish. There’s one in the works about my favorite albums of all-time, and another one of my all-time favorite covers from The Voice that I can’t stop listening to. I also just have a lot of admiration for people who know SO MUCH about music. So, while this certainly isn’t going to turn into a “music blog,” you can definitely expect that in these next few posts.

SCHOOL/TRAVEL: Every semester I get more and more into my major–English Education–which is a good thing, of course. It’d be pretty concerning if I became less interested in it over the years. But in a little over a week, I’ll actually be leaving for Europe to take a two-week course that compares different education systems. Now, this blog also isn’t going to turn into my professional development in that realm (that’s for a separate corner of the Internet where I reside), I will be visiting four countries in two weeks, and then hanging out in Vienna for another week with my family. So, you’ve seen me in Hilton Head. You’ve seen me in Gulf Shores. Get ready to witness me taking on Europe.

TV: Netflix has sort of been killing it with the originals lately. I, along with everyone else, finished Thirteen Reasons Why and definitely had some thoughts. I really don’t know if I’ll post all of that, though, because my journal entry about it ended up being over 3,000 words. You guys don’t want to read that. I also watched BoJack Horseman before that (LOVE, btw) and am now watching Girlboss which makes me want to get bangs and steal stuff. So who knows, maybe I’ll share some opinions on these shows in a bit. Critical thinking can happen everywhere, y’all. Don’t let our hierarchy of culture tell you that we need to bash good television and praise art that makes us feel nothing.

 

LOVE LIFE: 

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READING: Lastly, I’m hoping to read a lot more this summer than I have thus far in 2017. Last semester I was going strong all the way until the end, but the motivation just hasn’t been there lately. However, I did just give a speech on the importance of reading and as I was talking I was just thinking, “shit I need to start practicing what I preach.” So, if anything, this blog might start being book recommendation and review heavy. But, hey, could be worse, right?

So that’s where I’m at right now. I’m twenty-years-old and the world’s lookin bright. If you’ve been following me for a while and like what you just read, I’m happy to have ya around. If you’re bored out of your mind and wanna leave, no scrape off my nose. I’ll probably have to delete this thing or make all the posts private when I start looking for a teaching job in a year and a half, anyway. So let’s live it up while we can.

I mean besides, it’s not like the internet is forever or anything.

Sincerely,

Sammy

[BOOK REVIEW] HARRY POTTER AND THE CURSED CHILD

Dear Reader,

I’ll admit it: I was a little late to the Harry Potter party. While my sister was reading these stories at 8 years old, I didn’t even read the first one all the way through until I was 16. I honestly wouldn’t have it any other way, though, because a lot of it would have been lost on me. (Also, Sarah had to wait a few years for the release of the sixth and the seventh, where I got to read all of them back to back in the last month of summer before my senior year of high school.)

So yes, I was 16 when I experienced the magic, and it was amazing. The series honestly changed my life a little bit. As someone who is also planning on writing a few books, I was so inspired by the fact that this entire world and this seven-year adventure could be created purely from imagination and told so perfectly. And then for the books to be just as lovable? It’s truly amazing.

So, if we’re being completely honest, anything JK Rowling writes about these characters that I fell in love with four years ago is, most likely, going to be amazing to me. And, spoiler alert, it was. (Oh, quick note, there aren’t real spoilers in this review, but we’ll get to that.)

And I keep seeing things around the internet regarding why people didn’t like the play or why people are “outraged” that it’s not another book or whatever. And all of those people are surely entitled to their opinions, but I do not think it’s overrated. I do not think it’s too little too late or a desperate grasp on something that’s over now.

loved it. I cried so much, sometimes just because of nostalgic reasons and sometimes because I was touched by the story. I laughed out loud–mostly at what Ron said because I forgot how damn much I love Ron. I read it in one night–maybe like three and a half hours which is so quick for me–simply because I couldn’t put it down. I thought it was amazing and now I want to read and watch the whole series again.

So, like I said, there are no spoilers in this review because I hate the thought of ruining someone’s first time reading something, but I’ve decided to do something new. The purpose of my book reviews from now on will be whether or not I recommend it, whether or not I liked/loved it, and what a person should look for when reading it–what type of person this would suit.

But I always feel like I have to leave out so much and I hate that, so I’m starting a new thing where I’ll post a separate review, on the same day, but it will be password protected so no one will get spoilers if they don’t want. The password today is “ireadit” and the purpose I’m trying to create for this is to start a conversation. My favorite part of reading is talking to others about it–and I think that’s why I love Harry Potter so much. Never have I ever read a book so popular among my peers, my friends, my family. And, so often, the conversations I have after reading a book make it mean that much more to me. It helps me make sense of all of it and decide my own personal opinion.

So, if you’ve finished this and want to go to that post, I really want to hear your thoughts! Comment you opinions or your questions or your grievances with the book. And, if you finish this book in three weeks, the beautiful thing about the internet is that the post–the conversation–will still be there, ready for you to add your input.

Well, here goes the trial period. Hope to see you over there.

Sincerely,

Sammy

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[BOOK REVIEW] ME BEFORE YOU

Dear Reader,

Two days ago I went to Books a Million because Me Before You (the film) comes out on Friday and I obviously have to read the book first. Despite having the mission to find and purchase one book, I spent $100 on six (and a membership). But even though my wallet is hurting, my blog will now THRIVE with all the new book reviews, right?

9780718157838-me-before-you-reissue-jacket-2.jpgAnyway, I started Me Before You late that night and in between the chores, grad parties, and now online class that I have to work on, I’ve been reading this all-consuming book.

As an aspiring writer who understands the distance I have to go in order to mature my writing, whenever I read books, I will either underline certain parts or write them in my notes app on my phone or label them with a sticky note to later transfer into my journal where I write my thoughts and reflections after reading a story.

This book was filled with stickies.

JoJo Moyes reminds me of John Green in the sense that her writing–her phrasing, the descriptions, even some of the vocabulary–is so impressive. And maybe part of that is because she’s British and I really enjoyed seeing words like “bloke” and “lardarse” used throughout the book. But it’s also the fact that she is truly a talented writer, and it seems to come across as effortless.

The story itself is beautiful and tragic and thought-provoking and makes you want to talk about things and figure out what you believe. Just reading this story and recognizing when I didn’t like a certain action from a character, but then exploring why and, further, working to see the story from their side as well is eye-opening. It’s a beautiful thing when you get to learn more about yourself by partaking in a 400-page journey.

Reading it sparked at least five new ideas for blog posts that I can think of right now, so there is plenty more I want to say, but I’ll save it for another time. For now, I’m just going to strongly recommend this book to anyone and everyone and I will be first in line for my tickets to the show on Friday.

Also, sorry this isn’t a real review where I tell you what it’s about and the who the characters are and what the biggest problem they face is. I’m just sharing the fact that I loved it and I’ll be writing more on it later to discuss what parts tugged on my heartstrings and filled my eyes with tears.

There’s plenty more to say.

Sincerely,

Sammy

{ESC} BOOK EIGHTEEN: FUN HOME

Dear Reader,

I was reading this book the other day in my living room and my mother walked in and said, “I didn’t know you read comics!”

And because I always say obnoxiously snobby things to her (it’s fine, she loves it, she thinks it’s hilarious) I replied, “oh my god Mom, it’s a graphic NOVEL.

And don’t worry, I’m not about to go into a whole big rant about the proper classification of these books, because honestly I don’t think it’s a big deal what people refer to them as or what stigma they associate with them because a story can be told a million different ways. And some stories are told better in the form of a graphic novel while others are better told in a video format–or others are best told by one person on stage with a microphone, talking to drunk people in a comedy club.

That’s why I love this book so much. Fun Home is a great story. It’s written like a graphic novel (with panels and captions and such), but the writing isn’t what you might expect from a “comic book.” It’s written in a really sophisticated way and it’s actually a lot more words than you might think. Some of the panels are news articles or diary entries or things written in scratchy handwritten notes that you have to try extra hard to make out.

So, while it still only took me a day to get through, it was a lot. It made me think and reflect a lot. And even though it’s an autobiography, it tells much more about the life of her father than her at some points. But it’s all so connected and just truly well done.

Also, it’s been reformatted, in you will, into a Broadway musical (a hit, I should add) and I desperately want to see it. So you can just add that to the list of things in NYC that are taunting me.

Sincerely,

Sammy

PS. Here’s a video of Fun Home’s performance at the Tonys this year that I can’t stop watching.

{ESC} BOOK SEVENTEEN: I WROTE THIS FOR YOU AND ONLY YOU

Dear Reader,

Merry Christmas Eve! I’m currently partaking in a Mario Kart tournament so I’ll make this book review quick.

I got the book “I Wrote This For You and Only You” as an early Christmas present (thanks Zach!) and I read it in one night. It’s this book of short poems that are each paired with really cool photography and I couldn’t put it down. I was marking the pages with different bookmarks and writing some of my favorites in my journal and all of a sudden it was 2AM.

I mean, it happens.

I’ll probably make another post with a few of my favorite ones, but for now all I want to say is this book is great. A lot of the poems are so deep and thoughtful and choose all the perfect words to say things I’ve felt but could never articulate. There are also other books in this collection and I’m looking forward to reading more.

Alright, I’m going back to my family now, so I’ll just leave with you with this:

“If all you do is making something beautiful for someone else, even if it’s only for a moment, with a single word or small action, you have done a great service.

Because life can be ugly and frustrating and for so many, it is.”

Sincerely,

Sammy

{ESC} BOOK SIXTEEN: BEAUTIFUL MUSIC FOR UGLY CHILDREN

Dear Reader,

This is the story of Gabe, a boy who is about to graduate high school and just got his very own weekly show that he calls “Beautiful Music for Ugly Children.” But the thing that drives the plot of this book is one little detail: Gabe was born a girl.

For as long as he can remember, Gabe has felt like a boy. But because he is in this girl’s body, he is treated differently. He is defined by the people who perceive him as Elizabeth, despite the feelings he has inside.

And isn’t that crazy? That people can be so offended by the way others choose to act? It’s okay to be confused and it’s okay to ask questions and it’s even okay to be ignorant. We all are ignorant at one point or another. There are certain things that you simply may not know until they come up. Until you become educated. But we cannot promote that ignorance. We must always strive to learn–and if we cannot understand, we must at the very least strive to accept.

This is why I love this book. You start the story with a character that you are just now learning about. Someone who has never existed in your mind before. And you see him develop in front of your eyes.

He’s on the air. He’s playing Green Day and Mika.

Now he’s talking to John, his neighbor and idol.

Now he’s talking to a viewer, and we learn his name is Gabe.

We learn more and more about him, this picture of him in our mind is forming, and then, seven pages later, we learn that he was born a girl: Elizabeth.

That’s the wonderful thing about books: we learn the characters from the inside out. And sure, we can learn of their appearance as well, but those are often the details that can be overlooked. Plots are driven by the actions of characters and these actions are driven by who they are and how they think.

And in the case of this book, a lot of the actions are driven by how others feeling about the appearance of Gabe, but that reveals much more about those characters than it reveals about him.

I think that’s a very important lesson that needs to be taught, and I think this book does a very good job teaching it. The characters are vibrant and lovable and the story is heartbreaking but hopeful.

This was a book that I finished in one night, but will stay with me for a very long time.

Sincerely,

Sammy

{ESC} BOOK FIFTEEN: BINGE

Dear Reader,

I absolutely love reading biographical books written by my idols. I love their ability to capture and showcase their voice when telling their own stories. It feels so authentic and personal. I’ve read the autobiographies of Mindy Kaling, Tina Fey, Jenny Lawson–hilarious individuals whose stories have me giggling at the pages even in public. But there’s always more, too. They share their experiences with failure and tell stories that have overarching morals that are applicable to real life. I love it.

And then I read the memoirs of Connor Franta, as you know.

This was the first book I bought that was written by a YouTuber and I was, to say the least, extraordinarily disappointed. I won’t get into it too much (because you can read my other review if you really want a recap of all the corny ways he ended his chapters), but let’s just say I was disappointed.

Then a few months later, after it was heavily recommended by a friend, I decided to pick up yet another book written by a YouTuber: Binge by Tyler Oakley.

Amazing. Hilarious. Inspirational without trying too hard. Real without the forced happy endings. He shared stories that definitely didn’t portray him in the best light, but this only made me adore him even more.

His writing was so authentic and him that it was hard for me to put his book down. The only cons? One, I found two typos which always confuse me because don’t these things get proofread meticulously before getting sent to print? And two, I felt like throwing up the entire time I read the chapter on foot fetishes–but that’s probably just because I hate feet.

But you know what? In Connor’s book I learned lessons like “hop on that high-speed train.” I learned how he was homecoming king and his accomplishments as a competitive swimmer. And I still love Connor, but I felt like he was just shouting inspirational quotes at me and trying to make everything in his 22 years of Earth into a lesson that should be learned.

9781471145131.jpgI learned real things from Tyler.

I learned to “check thyself before you wreck thyself.”

I learned that when life throws a wrench into your plans, you make an IKEA bookshelf–something he demonstrated when interviewing Michelle Obama.

And I learned that you should always try something twice. Sure, he used a story about a guy’s foot fetish to convey that particular message and I felt a bit queasy after that chapter, but I learned something.

He wrote about the times he’s flipped out on restaurant employees, T-Mobile workers, and even fans. He discussed his eating disorder and the desire he had to kill himself and that time when the entire One Direction fandom had #WeWantTylerOakleyDead and #RIPTylerOakleysCareer trending worldwide. He talked about the hardships of his fame and the secret wishes he had (just last year) of his plane rides taking a turn for the worse.

He wrote about life so authentically. He captured both the beauty and the pain and intertwined the two into this beautiful piece of writing.

I feel so much more connected to Tyler as a person and a human being. I love him and appreciate him more than I did just a few days ago, and it’s all because of this book. Sure, he shares his life online with millions of people, but we didn’t really get the full story.

This book gave us that–or at least more of that. I’m sure there are many more stories that could be told to invite us into the real life of Matthew Tyler Oakley.

And maybe one day he’ll bless us all with a sequel.

Sincerely,

Sammy